"I Shot A Man In Reno" highlights the diversity of the audience that is touched by and attracted to music that embraces and acknowledges death, at the same time subverting the cliches.Ask the gangsta rap devotee. Ask the grizzled blues fanatic and the bearded folk fan. Ask the goth and the indie kid. Ask and they will all tell you the same thing: death and popular music have forever danced hand-in-hand in funereal waltz time. The pop charts and the majority of radio stations' playlists may conspire to convince anyone listening that the world spins on its axis to the tune of "I love you, you love me" and traditional matters of the heart. The rest of us know that we live in a world where red roses will one day become lilies and that death is the motor that drives the greatest and most exhilarating music of all.Drawing upon original and unique interviews with artists, such as Mick Jagger, Richard Thompson, Ice-T, Will Oldham and Neil Finn among many others, "I Shot a Man In Reno" explores how popular music deals with death, and how it documents the changing reality of what death means as one grows older. It's as transfixing as a train wreck, and you won't be able to put it down.
As an epilogue, "I Shot A Man In Reno" presents the reader with the 50 greatest death songs of all time, complete with a brief rationale for each, acting as a primer for the morbidly curious listener.
Graeme Thomson is a regular contributor to The Word, the Observer, Time Out, the Herald and the Sunday Herald. He is the author of Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello (Canongate, 2004) and Willie Nelson: The Outlaw (Virgin Books, 2006). He lives in Edinburgh.
Introduction; Prologue; 1. "Death Ain't Nothin' New" - Death in pre-1900 popular music; 2. With God on Our Side? - Disease, Flood and Famine in song; 3. Just a Shot Away: Murder - The representation of murder in song; 4. Helter Skelter: Songs That Kill - Inspiring people to murder; 5. Fixin' To Die - Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide in song; 6. Billy, Don't Be a Hero - Teen death songs; 7. In Memoriam - Eulogies and personal laments; 8. Who Wants To Live Forever? - The most popular songs at funerals; 9. The Sound of Music - conveying death through music alone; 10. Sweetness Follows: What Happens Next? - Looking at the afterlife in popular song; Epilogue: The 50 Greatest Death Songs.